Polygala paniculata L. Polygalaceae

  • Kreni LokhoEmail author
  • Wendy A. Mustaqim
Living reference work entry
Part of the Ethnobotany of Mountain Regions book series (ETMORE)


Polygala brasiliensis Mart., Polygala carlotina E.H.L. Krause, Polygala paniculata f. leucoptera S.F. Blake, Polygala ramosissima Cav. (POWO 2020)


Polygala brasiliensis Mart., Polygala carlotina E.H.L. Krause, Polygala paniculata f. leucoptera S.F. Blake, Polygala ramosissima Cav. (POWO 2020)

Local Names

Indonesia: akarwangi, katumpanglemah – akarbelirit (Talang Mamak in Riau) – balm balm (East Kalimantan in Indonesia) – batete (Sigi in Central Sulawesi) – hakawo (Wawonii in Sulawesi) – jukutrindik, jukuttikukur, kicengceng, kicengnreng, kiclenceng, kikumat, kikuwat, kitombe, paci-paci, sapuan, sasapuan, sirawunglangit, tombe (Sundanese in West Java) – kayuputih (Dayak and Banjar in Kalimantan) – randiawang (Manggarai, Ruteng, Nusa Tenggara) – rumput balsam (Tonsawang, Minahasa, and North Sulawesi) – rumputwangi (Batak Karo in Sumatra) (Arnold et al. 2017; Badrunasar and Santoso 2016; Hidayat 2012; Handayani et al. 2015; Iswandono et al. 2015; Mamahani et al. 2016; Nurrani et al. 2014; Priyadi et al. 2010; Purba et al. 2016; Royyani and Rahayu 2010; Rugayah et al. 2015; Setyowati and Wardah2007; Silalahi et al. 2019).

Botany and Ecology

Botanical Description

Erect, annual herbs, 10–50 cm tall. Stems terete, usually many-branched, clad with stalked glandular hairs. Leaves simple, 4–5-whorled to pseudowhorled at the base, upward alternate, subsessile or very shortly petioled, blades lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, 5–32 cm long by 0.6–4 mm wide, basally cuneate, margin entire, slightly recurved, apex acute, 1-veined, lateral veins obscure. Flowers arranged in cylindric, loose racemes, terminal or opposite to leaves, 2–15 cm long by 5–7 mm wide, peduncle up to 14 cm long, bracts lanceolate, 0.8–1.1 mm long, glabrous, deciduous. Pedicels slender, 0.5–1.2 mm long; basal bracteoles lanceolate, acute at the apex, early caducous. Sepals five, three outer sepals bearing 2 basal glands, largest one broadly ovate, otherwise elliptic, 1–1.2 mm long, obtuse at the apex, the inner sepals two, purple, three veined, petaloid, elliptic-oblong or oblong-ovate, 0.9–1.1 mm long. Petals three, white or violet; upper petals ovate-lanceolate, 2–2.5 mm long, attenuate to the apex; wings oblong-obovate, spatulate-obovate or obovate, 2–2.8 mm long by 0.7–1 mm wide, base cuneate, apex rounded, 3-nerved; keel 1.9–2.7 mm long, without auricle at the base, apex with 2, 6–10 appendages, 0.4–0.9 mm long. Stamens 8, filaments connate to form a tube, glabrous inside, the free part of the filament ca. 1/8 of its total length. Ovary obovoid to nearly globose, 0.6–0.8 mm long by 0.4–0.6 mm wide; style twice as long as ovary, straight or ascending towards near the apex, apex of the style expanded into an oblique, broad cup, ended with a tuft of hairs, sessile stigma at the base of the cup. Fruit capsule, oblong to ellipsoid, 1.8–2.6 mm long by 0.9–1.5 mm wide, somewhat longer than the alae, not winged, notched at the apex, glabrous. Seeds black, oblong, 1.4–1.8 mm long, densely white pubescent, strophiole small with 2 membranous, narrowly oblong appendages (Chen et al. 2008; van der Meijden 1988; Woodson et al. 1969) (Figs. 1 and 2).
Fig. 1

Living plant of Polygala paniculata. West Java, Indonesia. (Photo: Wendy A. Mustaqim)

Fig. 2

Inflorescence of Polygala paniculata. West Java, Indonesia. (Photo: Wendy A. Mustaqim)

Distribution and Habitat

This species is widespread in tropical and subtropical America. It is native to Texas and Mexico to the south, including the Caribbean Islands, reaching southern Brazil. Now the species has become pantropical due to introductions and naturalization from Africa to South Asia including China. It has now distributed throughout Southeast Asia. This species has also been recorded from Australia and the Pacific Islands and Hawaii. It occurs in wastelands, old agricultural fields, roadsides, plantations, and fields from sea level up to 2250 m asl. It has a preference to the wet regions of the Southeast Asian Archipelago (van der Meijden 1988; Nisyawati and Mustaqim 2017; POWO 2020; Slik 2009; Woodson et al. 1969).

Local Medicinal Uses

Indonesia: This plant has important medicinal value in some regions of Indonesia, at least in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Nusa Tenggara. Batak Karo community of North Sumatra use this species as medicine for colds and oukup. Oukup is a traditional bathing treatment for women after birth. The plants are boiled and placed in a small bucket, which is subsequently placed in a small room together with the women undergoing treatment (Purba et al. 2016). Talang Mamak community of Riau province consume water from the boiled root to cure “masukangin” a kind of fever (Setyowati and Wardah 2007). In Jambi, the plant is used as “obatgosok,” a preparation that is similar to balms (Firison et al. 2018). In Gunung Halimun Salak National Park of West Java, the leaves are used for cuts (Priyadi et al. 2010). A similar use for gonorrhea was recorded from Wonogiri, Central Java, where the plants were boiled and either drunk or applied externally for treating lower back pain. Besides, the poultice of leaves is used to alleviate cough, asthma, skin irritation, and dandruff (Kusuma and Suryani 2017). Local communities in Poncokusumo District, Malang, East Java, use roots and leaf of this species to cure bronchitis, cough, and itch (Batoro and Siswanto 2017). In Bontang, East Kalimantan, the plant is believed to possess aphrodisiacal properties (Rijai 2013). In Sulawesi, this species has been used by some ethnicities. Boiled plant parts are consumed to cure cancer in North Sulawesi, especially by people in Mongondow, Minahasa, and Sangihe (Nurrani et al. 2014). Local people of Sigi Regency, Central Sulawesi, crush the leaves and the extract is then mixed with warm water and drunk to cure cough and lung disease (Arnold et al. 2017). In Wawonii Island of Southeast Sulawesi, this species is known as hakawo and is used as medicine to cure rheumatism (“pegallinu”) (Royyani and Rahayu 2010). The roots are mixed with oil and smeared. Wawoola community from the same island also use it as a medicinal plant (Rugayah et al. 2015). The Manggarai community of Nusa Tenggara, the Dayak Meratus of Tumingki of South Kalimantan, and the Tonsawang of Minahasa, North Sulawesi, also use this species for various medicinal purposes (Iswandono et al. 2015; Handayani et al. 2015; Mamahani et al. 2016). Malaysia: Local communities in Peninsular Malaysia use the leaves and roots as a tonic (Irwanto 2001).


Plant extract contains compounds such as aurapten, diester 3′-acetyl-4′-benzoylkhellactone, murrangatin, 7-methoxy-8-(1,4-dihydroxy-3-methyl-2-butenyl) coumarin, and phebasolin. Phebasolin has fungistatic as well as molluscicidal activity. Leaves and bark contain other compounds such as cyanidin-3,5-dimonoside and anthocyanidins delphinin-3-bioside (Irwanto 2001). An analysis of the flowers and roots of P. paniculata through gas chromatography and mass spectrometry found out that the plant has methyl salicylate as major component (Pizzolatti et al. 2011). In the roots, bornyl acetate and 1,8-cineol are the major components (Pizzolatti et al. 2011). The hydroalcoholic extract of the whole plant was given to mice orally in dosage of (0.01–30 mg/kg) and subjected to forced swimming test which demonstrated antidepressant-like effect, changing the locomotor activity which is likely mediated due to an interaction with the serotonergic (5-HT2A receptors), noradrenergic (α2 and β-receptor), and dopaminergic (D1 and D2 receptors) systems (Bettio et al. 2011). The ethanolic extract of the plant shows significant results for use as analgesic and antiedematogenic; wild plants are more effective than the micropropagated plants (Nogueira et al. 2005). The hydroalcoholic extract of the plant decreases the ulcer index and maintains the production of gastric mucus for acute gastric lesions. Thus, it protects the mucosa from indometacin-induced lesions (Lapa et al. 2007). The hydroalcoholic extract of the plant diluted with 150 mM of sodium chloride show significant effects against methylmercury-induced (in-vivo) neurotoxicity (Farina et al. 2005). The hydroalcoholic extract demonstrates significant dose-dependent inhibition of glutamate-induced pain in mice (Lapa et al. 2009). The hydroalcoholic extract induces hypotensive and vasorelaxant effects in rats (Lapa et al. 2011). Ethanol extract of the whole plant yielded xanthones 1-hydroxy-5-methoxy-2,3-methylenedioxyxanthone (1) and 1,5-dihydroxy-2,3-dimethoxyxanthone (2), together with coumarinmurragatin and flavonolrutin (Cristiano et al. 2003). The ethanol extract of the plant shows potent antibacterial activity against 13 pathogenic strains of bacteria. The study was carried out as scientific evaluation of diarrheal herbs used by the K’ho people in Bidoup-Nui Ba National Park (Nguyen et al. 2015). Dihydro-pyranocoumarindiester was isolated from the plant using flash chromatography on silica gel and preparative reversed-phase chromatography (Hamburger et al. 1984). The petrol ether and chloroform extracts of the plant were shown by Hamburger et al. (1985) to possess both molluscicidal and antifungal properties. The study also isolated four coumarins using flash chromatography and centrifugal thin-layer chromatography. They are aurapten, phebalosin, murrangatin, and 7-methoxy-8-(1,4-di-hydroxy-3-methyl-2-butenyl) coumarin, a new natural product. The chloroform extract from the plant yields 7-methoxy-8-(1′,2′-epoxy-3′-methyl-3′-butenyl)-coumarin (1) and two coumarinic artifacts (2a-2b). The reaction with ethanol or silicon dioxide (EtOH/SiO2) at room temperature for 24 h yields 7-methoxy-8-(1′-hydroxy-2′-ethoxy-3′-methyl-3′-butenyl)-coumarin and 7-methoxy-8-(1′-ethoxy-2′- hydroxy-3′-methyl-3′-butenyl)-coumarin, respectively (Pizzolatti et al. 2002). The extract of the plant shows potent uses in the pharmaceutical field such as antibacterial, anticancer, and antimycotic (Rijai 2013). The extract also possesses antioxidant properties (Murwanto and Santosa 2012).

Economic Importance

In Bontang of East Kalimantan, Indonesia, the plant is widely cultivated because the root of the plant is believed to increase stamina (Rijai 2013). The fragrant roots are placed between clothes in Java (Irwanto 2001). Victório et al. (2011) demonstrated the utility value of this plant as a source of methyl salicylate through tissue culture.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BotanyMadras Christian CollegeChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Botany DivisionGenerasiBiologi Indonesia (Genbinesia) FoundationGresikIndonesia

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